As with most budget compacts the M380 doesn’t offer much in the way of features. Shooting modes are selected via a small and rather fiddly dial on the top plate, and are limited to program auto, a list of fairly typical scene modes or the Smart Capture mode, which is supposed to be intelligent scene selection. In practice it’s actually fairly dumb though, because it seems to only ever select landscape, macro or high ISO mode. At least this time it remembers to use the flash when needed, unlike some previous incarnations of this mode.
The lack of external controls means that in the slightly more adventurous Program auto what few options the camera does offer require a trip to the rather clunky main menu. Selections include exposure compensation, macro or infinity focusing, a limited long exposure option, a very brief list of colour options, and selectable white balance, ISO and sharpness settings. Autofocus can be set to multi-zone or centre zone, and exposure metering to multi-zone, centre weighted or spot. On most cameras selecting an option from the menu either takes you back to the main menu screen or back to shooting mode, but in the case of the M380 it takes you to a completely superfluous second selection screen, even though you already made your selection. Again, this looks to me like a menu that was written for a different camera.
What features the M380 does have are also pretty weak. The 5x zoom range of the lens gives it some versatility, but this is limited by the relatively long 38mm wide-angle end. The built-in flash is very underpowered, not even living up to its claimed 4m maximum range, and it fails to light the corners of the frame at wide angle. The close range metering is also pretty poor, and flash portrait shots from less than about 1.5m away are usually over exposed. It’s hard to judge the recharge time, because the camera will take a picture even if the flash isn’t fully charged, resulting in some very under exposed night-time shots.
The video recording mode is also pretty lacklustre by modern standards, offering 640 x 480 resolution, mono audio and only digital zoom. The M380 has no image stabilisation, which is odd since the much cheaper M1093 IS had full optical stabilisation. About the only unusual feature that the M380 presents is the ability to charge the battery via the USB connection, which at least reduces the number of battery chargers you have to take on holiday.
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